Manchester - Newton Heath Railway

North Road : M40 5BP Manchester - Newton Heath Railway : Map credit National Library of Scotland Manchester - Newton Heath Railway : Image credit Wiki Commons
The Newton Heath Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company set up a football and cricket club in 1878 and rented a ground for the club at North Road.

The first sports meeting at North Road* to include bicycle racing was held on August 22nd 1881 and the bicycle event was a 2 miles handicap race. The 2 day meeting was repeated the following year and became an annual event, by 1883 there were two bicycle handicap races over two and three miles.

The first Newton Heath Athletic sports organised by the Newton Heath (L&YR) cricket and football club was a 2 day event, held on May 31st and June 2nd 1884 to celebrate the opening of their new bicycle track. On the first day there was a 3 miles bicycle handicap race, the Umpire newspaper reported "Crankshaw of Failsworth and Howard of Bury fell after going 100 yards. The corners of the track being too sharp and the ground heavy, caused the time to be 13 min 55 sec." The Athletic News reported that the cinder track was exactly 440 yards, with one or two difficult corners. The attendance on the first day was 2,000. The second day had 2 miles and 5 miles handicap races and there were 1,000 spectators.

On August 10th 1888, there was a ‘really successful' sports meeting at which there were running and bicycle events. The bicycle races were; one mile handicap (maidens) and a two miles open handicap race. On May 24th 1890 the Ancient Shepherd's Friendly Society organised a sports meeting which included a one mile bicycle handicap race.

The two day sports on August 23rd and 25th 1890 1 included a mile handicap (safeties only with pneumatics), 2 and 3 miles handicap (safeties barred) and 1 mile novices handicap race.

As the football club developed and signed professional players, the Railway Company stopped supporting them and the club was unable to pay the rent. The ground was on church owned land, who did not approve of professional sport. The club were evicted and moved to Bank Street, Clayton in 1893. Just before the move, Newton Heath (L&YR) cricket and football club changed its name to Manchester United and they changed their strip to red and white.

The ground was subsequently used as a local playing field and then Moston Brook High School was built on the site. North Road has been renamed Northampton Road. In 2002 the North Manchester Business Park opened on the site.

* The first bicycle race at Newton Heath was probably the Newton Heath Friendly Societies sports event on August 25th and 26th 1879 which was held on Black Fields and included a one mile bicycle race. Black Fields could have been a general name for the area around North Road and Ten Acres Lane.


Refs     : [p]
Photos : Wiki Commons
Maps    : National Library of Scotland